HOUSE COMMITTEE ON

 VETERANS' AFFAIRS

 

March 24, 2005   Hearing Room C

8:30 A.M.  Tapes 45 - 47

                                                                                                                          (Corrected 4/26/2005)

MEMBERS PRESENT:            Rep. Donna Nelson, Chair

Rep. Debi Farr, Vice-Chair

Rep. Scott Bruun

Rep. Dave Hunt

Rep. Betty Komp

 

MEMBERS EXCUSED:            Rep. Phil Barnhart, Vice-Chair

Rep. Brian Boquist

 

STAFF PRESENT:                  Jim Stembridge, Committee Administrator

Erin Seiler, Committee Assistant

 

 

MEASURES/ISSUES HEARD:

                                                HB 2850 – Public Hearing

                                                HB 2437 – Public Hearing

                                                HB 2820 – Public Hearing

                                                HB 2862 – Public Hearing

                                                HB 3053 – Public Hearing

 

 

These minutes are in compliance with Senate and House Rules.  Only text enclosed in quotation marks reports a speaker’s exact words.  For complete contents, please refer to the tapes.

 

TAPE/#

Speaker

Comments

TAPE 45, A

002

Chair Nelson

Opens the meeting at 8:38 a.m.

031

Chair Nelson

Submits and summarizes draft of Legislative Budget for the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (EXHIBIT A).

095

Chair Nelson

Opens the public hearing on HB 2850.

HB 2850 – PUBLIC HEARING

097

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator. Explains HB 2850, which permits school district to issue high school diploma to member of Armed Forces who served in Vietnam if member meets certain requirements.

101

Richard Crow

Korean War Veteran, Toledo, Oregon. Testifies in support of HB 2850. Speaks to receiving his high school diploma in 2004, more than fifty-seven years after leaving high school to fight in the Korean War.

190

Mike Ryan

Korean War Veteran, Lebanon, Oregon. Testifies in support of HB 2850. Speaks to receiving his high school diploma, more than sixty-two years after leaving high school to fight in the Korean War.

379

Mac MacDonald

Representative, Veterans’ Organizations. Testifies in support of HB 2850. Asks that line 21 of HB 2850 be changed from “and January 27, 1973” to “and May 7, 1975.”

404

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HB 2850. Opens the public hearing on HB 2437.

HB 2437 – PUBLIC HEARING

TAPE 46, A

001

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator. Explains HB 2437, which removes certain limitations on eligibility for educational aid for veterans. Submits and summarizes -1 amendments (EXHIBIT B), -2 amendments (EXHIBIT C), and -3 amendments (EXHIBIT D).

038

Val Conley

Veterans’ Services Division Administrator, Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA). Submits and summarizes written testimony in support of HB 2437 (EXHIBIT E).

070

Conley

Submits brochure about Oregon Educational Aid for Veterans (EXHIBIT F).

084

Colonial Mike Caldwell

Deputy Director, Oregon Military Department (OMD). Testifies in support of HB 2437.

091

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HB 2437. Opens the public hearing on HB 2820.

HB 2820 – PUBLIC HEARING

093

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator.  Explains HB 2820, which directs public post-secondary institutions to grant veterans and surviving family member’s tuition waivers.

110

Cam Preus-Braly

Commissioner of Community College and Workforce Development, Oregon State Board of Education. Submits and summarizes written testimony in opposition to HB 2820 (EXHIBIT G).

140

Rep. Hunt

Asks if fiscal estimate is based only on current number of veterans enrolled in a university or college in Oregon and does not consider those soldiers currently in Iraq or Afghanistan.

147

Preus-Braly

Confirms that the fiscal estimate of $21million dollars per year is a conservative estimate based only on current veteran enrollment.

149

Rep. Farr

Asks how HB 2820 could be amended to make it more fiscally feasible.

153

Preus-Braly

Suggests limiting tuition waivers to those soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq and for the waivers to be part of a cascading of awards plan, serving to fill the final tuition payment gap.

176

Preus-Braly

States the need to recognize the effects of extending the tuition waivers beyond those veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, in particular the large economic impact.

203

Rep. Farr

Confirms that if HB 2820 were amended making the tuition waivers the final stop gap, it would have support from the commissioner.

212

Julie Suchanek

Government Relations Specialist, Oregon Community College Association (OCCA). Submits and summarizes written testimony in opposition to HB 2820 (EXHIBIT H).

236

Suchanek

Addresses the two primary concerns OCCA has with HB 2820, the fiscal impact and loss of revenue to community colleges and the ability of local community college boards to set tuition and tuition policy.

274

Suchanek

Explains the educational programs and services that OCCA and community colleges in Oregon provide to veterans.

298

Lisa Zavala

Senior Associate Director, Oregon University Systems (OUS). Introduces David McDonald and the programs that OUS offers for veterans.

304

David McDonald

Director of Enrollment and Student Services, OUS. Submits and summarize written testimony in opposition to HB 2820 (EXHIBIT I).

337

McDonald

Submits and summarizes issue brief about the Voyager Tuition Assistance Program (VTAP) (EXHIBIT J).

374

McDonald

Addresses OUS concerns about the fiscal impact of HB 2820. Explains that the mandate to waive tuition in HB 2820 could result in a loss of $10 million dollars per year in revenue to OUS institutions, adding that this estimate does not include surviving family members because it is not well-defined in the bill.

406

Rep. Hunt

Asks if the VTAP is already in place.

TAPE 45, B

001

McDonald

States that VTAP has been approved and will be effective in Fall 2005.

002

Rep. Hunt

Verifies that OUS will be able administer the VTAP within existing OUS resources.

006

Rep. Farr

Clarifies that HB 2820 states specifically that Guard and Reservists must have been called to active duty and stationed in an area of combat to receive tuition waivers.

013

Chair Nelson

Asks for clarification about whether the VTAP includes all soldiers who have been deployed.

018

McDonald

Explains that the VTAP was designed to specifically target National Guard and Reservists who have been deployed.

023

Rep. Farr

Asks for statistics on soldiers currently attending college, in particular those who have been on active duty, but were not in an area of combat.

029

Chair Nelson

Clarifies that testimony is on behalf of all institutions in the OUS system.

033

McDonald

Details the benefits and services that are available to veterans and military officers on Oregon college campus.

049

Chair Nelson

Asks how much of the tuition costs are covered by military benefits.

052

McDonald

States that the maximum tuition assistance benefits that all the branches provide is $4,500 per year and tuition costs on OUS campuses range from $4,300 to $5,500.

066

McDonald

Explains OUS residency requirements.

072

Chair Nelson

Asks what constitutes a full-time student.

082

McDonald

States that twelve hours is a full-time student and the reason the VTAP covers only the full-time student is the tuition benefits are sufficient to cover all the tuition costs of a part-time student.

092

Mac MacDonald

Representative, Veterans’ Organizations. States that the VTAP does not cover regular members of the active Armed Forces, therefore, it is discriminatory. Asks that HB 2820, lines 17 and 18 be changed “to discharged under honorable conditions.”

111

Craig Campbell

Senior Policy Advisor, Office of the Governor.

118

Chair Nelson

Comments that it was her understanding Governor Kulongoski had directed that all veterans would be able to go to an OUS institution tuition-free and was unaware of full-time student and residency requirements.

120

Campbell

Explains that Governor Kulongoskis' National Guard Appreciation Package was created with information from OUS and OCCA about how to best utilize the limited funds. States willingness to work with committee on HB 2820 provided it is done within “our limited means.”

138

Chair Nelson

Asks if Governor would work with committee on defining who would qualify for the benefits.

141

Campbell

In reference to definition of residency and being from Oregon, then the Governor would be willing to work with the committee “to take care of our folks.”

144

Rep. Hunt

Asks if the focus of the Governors' package and top priority, in terms of dollars, would be on those returning from recent service, whether it is combat or deployed, as opposed to all veterans.

153

Campbell

Confirms that, yes that was the initial intent because with only $700,000 dollars in the budget, attention needed to be focused very narrowly.

164

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HB 2820. Opens the public hearing on HB 2862.

HB 2862 – PUBLIC HEARING

175

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator. Explains HB 2862, which directs post-secondary institutions to award credit for education and training obtained while serving in Armed Forces of United States.

178

Colonial Mike Caldwell

Deputy Director, Oregon Military Department (OMD). Testifies in support of HB 2862, stating that Oregon universities and community colleges  already take certificates of completion of military training and converts them to college credit.

207

Mac MacDonald

Representative, Veterans’ Organizations. States support for HB 2862.

222

David McDonald

Director of Enrollment and Student Services, Oregon University System (OUS). Explains that all seven Oregon colleges are already engaged in this practice and all OUS institutions use the same guidelines for assessing and awarding credits.

241

Chair Nelson

Asks if there is a statute regarding this provisioning.

245

McDonald

States that there is no statute, but an Oregon Administrative Rule could be developed internally to ensure that the practice continues.

250

Julie Suchanek

Government Relations Specialist, Oregon Community College Association (OCCA). States that Oregon Community Colleges are also already engaged in this practice, but that OCCA is concerned that HB 2862 mandate that credit be granted, which would interfere with accreditation process.

279

Rep. Bruun

Asks how the American Council of Education classifies credits.

283

McDonald

Responds that classifications are dependent upon the activity that soldier wants credit for, the type of service completed, and duties of officers.

290

Chair Nelson

Asks if there are a maximum number credits that can be awarded.

292

McDonald

Explains that the maximum given is less important then the maximum number used because the graduation requirements are what are looked at when completing their degree, not the mere number of credits.

306

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HB 2862. Opens the public hearing on HB 3053.

HB 3053 – PUBLIC HEARING

310

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator. Explains HB 3053, which establishes Oregon Troops to Teachers program within Oregon Student Assistance Commission.

323

Margie Lowe

Interim Director, Oregon Students Assistance Commission (OSAC). Provides background on how OSAC administers its various programs and how the program created by HB 3053 would be administered.                 

341

Lowe

Explains two programs, rural health services and nursing services, which are similar loan-forgiveness programs currently being administered by OSAC. 

381

Chair Nelson

Asks about financial resources for the rural health services and nursing services programs.

384

Lowe

States that each program receives a half-million dollars from the General Fund.

403

Lowe

Speaks to concern about fiscal impact and that HB 3053 currently does not have any appropriation and without an appropriation OSAC would not be able to administer the program.

TAPE 46, B

020

Lowe

Addresses how HB 3053 requires the state to pay for educational costs prospectively and the need to establish parameters that would allow for changing the educational grant to an educational loan if the individual decides to end their participation in the program.

034

Rep. Betty Komp

House District 22. Submits and summarizes written testimony in support of HB 3053 (EXHIBIT K).

082

Rep. Farr

Asks how high poverty area is defined.

086

Rep. Komp

Answers that the State Department of Education has criteria to define high poverty area.

100

Rep. Bruun

Expresses appreciation to Rep. Komp for bringing forth HB 3053.

105

Rep. Komp

States that this is a federal program and there are matching funds that are attached to it, therefore Oregon would not be responsible for all the cost.

128

Karyn Chambers

National Troop to Teachers Program State Director, Oregon Department of Education. Submits and summarizes written testimony in support of HB 3053 (EXHIBIT L).

167

Chambers

Identifies the differences between the federal Troops to Teachers Program and the one established by HB 3053.

207

Chambers

Explains the different levels of assistance provided to participants and how to maximize the benefits to veterans.

246

Mac MacDonald

Representative, Veterans’ Organizations. States that in HB 3053, lines 14 and 15 should read “released from activity duty under honorable conditions” and “September 11, 2001” should be deleted on line 20.

274

Chair Nelson

Closes the public hearing on HB 3053.

TAPE 47, A

The following informational material was submitted without public testimony:

 

Jim Stembridge

Committee Administrator. Submits Veteran Population Data charts on behalf of Val Conley (EXHIBIT M).

110

Chair Nelson

Adjourns the meeting at 10:38 a.m.

 

 

EXHIBIT SUMMARY

 

  1. Veterans’ Issues,  Veterans’ Affairs Committee Budget Draft, Donna Nelson, 1 p
  2. HB 2437, -1 amendments, staff, 2 pp
  3. HB 2437, -2 amendments, staff 1 p
  4. HB 2437, -3 amendments, staff 2 pp
  5. HB 2437, written testimony, Val Conley, 3 pp
  6. HB 2437, Oregon Educational Aid for Veterans Brochure, Val Conley, 2 pp
  7. HB 2820, written testimony, Cam Preus-Braly, 1 p
  8. HB 2820, written testimony, Julie Suchanek, 1 p
  9. HB 2820, written testimony, David McDonald, 2 pp
  10. HB 2820, Voyager Tuition Assistance Program Issue Brief, David McDonald, 1 p
  11. HB 3053, written testimony, Betty Komp, 2 pp
  12. HB 3053, written testimony, Karyn Chambers, 1 p

 

The following informational material was submitted with public testimony:

  1. HB 2860, Veteran Population Data Charts from Val Conley, staff, 5 pp